To go out­side, and the­re per­chan­ce to stay
Or to remain within: that is the question:
Whe­ther ’tis bet­ter for a cat to suffer
The cuffs and buf­fets of incle­ment weather
That Natu­re rains on tho­se who roam abroad,

Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
And so by dozing melt the solid hours
That clog the clock’s bright gears with sul­len time
And stall the din­ner bell.

To sit, to stare
Out­doors, and by a sta­re to seem to state
A wish to ven­ture forth wit­hout delay,
Then when the portal’s ope­ned up, to stand
As if trans­fi­xed by doubt.

To prowl; to sleep;
To choo­se not kno­wing when we may once more
Our read­mit­tance gain: aye, there’s the hairball;
For if a paw were shaped to turn a knob,
Or work a lock or slip a window-catch,
And going out and coming in were made
As simp­le as the brea­king of a bowl,
What cat would bear the household’s pet­ty plagues,
The cook’s well-prac­ti­ced kicks, the butler’s broom,
The infant’s care­less pokes, the tick­led ears,
The tramp­led tail, and all the dai­ly shocks
That fur is heir to, when, of his own free will,
He might his exodus or ent­rance make
With a mere mitten?

Who would spa­ni­els fear,
Or strays tres­pas­sing from a neighbor’s yard,
But that the dread of our unhee­ded cries
And scrat­ches at a bar­ri­ca­ded door
No claw can open up, dis­pels our nerve
And makes us rather bear our humans’ faults
Than run away to ungues­sed miseries?

Thus cau­ti­on doth make house cats of us all;
And thus the brist­ling hair of resolution
Is sof­ten­ed up with the pale brush of thought,
And sin­ce our choices hin­ge on weigh­ty things,
We pau­se upon the thres­hold of decision.